Everyone Is Listening to Spoken Word Content. Here’s Why

Written By

Liz Iversen

Published On

Tuesday, Oct 20

Spoken word’s share of audio listening rose 30% over the last six years – and 8% in the last year alone, according to the Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research.

“This direction of change towards spoken word and away from music is consistent across every demo,” said Edison Research VP Megan Lazovick.

Americans are spending more time with spoken word audio than ever before. According to the Spoken Word Audio Report, here are ten reasons why.

1. COVID-19

The global pandemic has prompted many Americans to listen to more podcasts and radio shows. Four in ten adults 18+ told Edison they are consuming more spoken word content than they did before the pandemic.

2. More Time & Opportunity

63% of respondents said spending more time at home has given them more desire and opportunity to listen to more spoken word audio content, and 75% said they also have more time to listen. 

3. Convenience & Multitasking

According to Edison, 79% of respondents said they listen to spoken word content because they can do other things while they listen. And 77% said they listen because it’s become easier to listen to spoken word content whenever they want. 

4. Better Content

Two-thirds (68%) of respondents say they feel a responsibility to listen to more spoken word content to stay informed of current events and news. And 65% say it offers perspectives they don’t see in other media. 

5. Mental Health

Listeners are finding comfort and stress relief in spoken word content. The data shows 67% listen to spoken word content to get a break from negativity, and 64% listen to escape news and current events. Over half (54%) said listening to podcasts and radio shows gives them tips for navigating the problems in their life, and 52% said listening makes them feel less lonely.

6. Identity & Religion

Spoken word content is becoming increasingly diverse. Seventy percent of those surveyed say it has become easier to find content that is made for people like them. And 60% say they’ve found hosts that they can identify with. Religious podcasts may also be driving some of the growth of spoken word content; 41% of respondents said listening to spoken word content helps them stay connected to their faith or spirituality.

7. Awareness & Influence

With continued exposure to podcasts, people are becoming more aware of what is available and how they can access it. Two-thirds of respondents say they have a greater awareness of more types of spoken word audio content available today. Four in ten say they feel they should be listening to more spoken word content because their friends and family are talking about it. And four in ten also say they’ve seen podcasts or radio shows mentioned on social media.

8. Less Interest in Music

Over half (52%) of respondents say they’re not hearing a lot of new music they like, but there is a lot of spoken word content to choose from.

9. Personal Growth

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they see spoken word content as a way to improve or better themselves, and 61% said they listen for motivation, encouragement, or positivity. Additionally, 71% of those surveyed said they are becoming more interested in spoken word content as they grow older.

10. Education

Half of those surveyed said spoken word content helps them continue their education. And 70% say they process information more efficiently by listening to it. 

“No matter how you slice it, young people, old people, men, women alike listen to more music than spoken word content,” Lazovick said.

According to the report, the home is by far the place where most spoken word audio consumption takes place (54%), followed by the car (30%) and at-work listening (13%).  

“As more and more people bring audio into their daily routines, marketers should really be thinking about how they’re incorporating audio into their strategies,” said Michael Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, NPR.

For help advertising your brand on podcasts and radio, contact SMI today.

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